West End Redbacks coach Jamie Siddons says he is not afraid to continue wielding the axe after experienced pair Tim Ludeman and Tom Cooper were dropped for South Australia’s crucial Sheffield Shield clash against New South Wales, beginning Thursday.
Siddons has put veteran batsman Mark Cosgrove on notice and said he was prepared to drop any senior player who was not performing, after top-order batsman Cooper and wicketkeeper Ludeman were both omitted from the Redbacks' 12-man squad for the match, making way for promising young duo Alex Carey and Jake Weatherald.
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The Redbacks currently sit in third place on the Shield table and need a victory over the Blues to stay in touch for a place in the final, with only three rounds remaining.
"Absolutely (Cosgrove is on notice) – all our players who aren't performing are on notice," Siddons said. "We're not afraid to drop senior players if they're not performing.
"(They) can't go through a season averaging 25 to 30 as a senior player. (It) is just not on. They're in the team to hold us together and win games for us and that means averaging 45 to 50."
Cooper has managed scores of 0, 34, 5 and 18 since Christmas, while Ludeman hadn't gone past 26 in his four most recent knocks.
Cosgrove's last two Shield matches have produced scores of 32, 33, 33 and 33.
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Siddons said it was now up to Cooper and Ludeman to force their way back into the squad.
"We've been struggling with the bat in the top order and our senior players haven’t fired," he added. "We've been patient and worked hard with them, but Ludeman and Cooper, in particular, are out.
"We haven't really discussed their way back, but they'll have to do a lot of work and they'll have to score a lot of runs in grade cricket.
"They might play in the Toyota Futures League if they get a chance, but they will have to rely on people failing as well."
The Redbacks have lost both of their Sheffield Shield clashes since the Christmas break, dropping to third on the table.
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Injuries haven't helped their cause, with Callum Ferguson ruled out with a torn ACL prior to the KFC Big Bash League, before Kane Richardson was sidelined with a bone stress injury while playing for Australia in New Zealand.
But while Siddons is running out of patience with his senior players, he is prepared to persevere with his younger charges.
"Carey and Weatherald will be given every opportunity to find their feet and be successful at this level.
"I love the look of Carey.
"It's a very young upper order now with Sam Raphael and Jake Lehmann still finding their way at this level. They'll probably fail more than they succeed at this level."
South Australia are also without Australian representative Adam Zampa for the match, while in a further blow for the Redbacks, they have been forced to make one further change to their squad to play in Coffs Harbour, with left-arm paceman Gary Putland ruled out after sustaining a calf injury in grade cricket on Saturday.
Putland has been replaced by Elliot Opie, who is a chance to make his first-class debut after promising performances in the Futures League. Putland had originally been called into the squad to replace an ill Nick Benton.